Some of his tactics include:
- Fast forward in time-view your task from one, ten, or one hundred years distant. In a study, those who were asked to think of their lives one year from now developed more creative solutions than those who were thinking of tomorrow.
- Combine opposites-try ridiculous combinations on purpose. A study of famous scientists, writers, and artists found that many think of multiple, simultaneous opposites to develop their great ideas.
- Play with word choice and categorization-tweak the language of your challenge by making the verbs more generic and using synonyms to re-categorize the issues. Focusing on the gist of the issue rather than specifics can help you develop new ways of representing and solving it.
- Develop your own creativity-boosting activities-avoid daydreaming and other forms of passive, unconscious creativity. Studies have shown that the problem with passive creativity is that any findings will probably remain unconscious, so you’ll never know about your terrific idea.
MREB view: Similar to the studies Dean references in his blog, we have found that the most insightful organizations focus specific, conscious time on activities to developing insights. Because no single insight generation method will work for all researchers in all situations, you should encourage your team to use a range of techniques to maximize its chances of coming up with new insights. See our Insight Generation Training toolkit to access a variety of insight generation tools.
Preconceived notions can also squelch creativity in insight generation. To keep folks from jumping to (too obvious) conclusions, embrace time. Improve the quality of your insights by consciously separating information gathering and hypothesis generation activities. For example, Unilever’s customer-insight laboratory institutes a mandatory day-or-more break between information gathering and hypothesis generation to develop their growth insights.
Do you have specific activities to get your creative juices flowing? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section below! And for more information on creating insights, from how to foster a team environment of creativity to creating better business recommendations, visit our Analysis and Insight Generation topic center.